Please read this editorial about CT’s Early Prison Release Program and send me your thoughts at [email protected]

February 24, 2017

Risk Reduction program: Prison credits warrant review
February 23, 2017

Waterbury Republican American Editorial

Connecticut’s Risk Reduction Earned Credit program has generated spirited debate since it was established in 2011. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other Democrats contend the program is an invaluable criminal-justice tool. Critics argue it endangers the public.

Some, including Sen. Len Suzio, R-Meriden, and Rep. Robert C. Sampson, R-Wolcott, want it repealed.
Under the program, many inmates in Connecticut state prisons can have up to five days taken off their sentences each month.

They have to behave while incarcerated; participate in classes or programs to prepare for productive post-prison lives; and serve at least 85 percent of their sentences.

Inmates ineligible for participation in the program are those convicted of “any of four murder charges, aggravated sexual assault in the first degree and aggravated sexual assault of a minor, second-degree burglary and home invasion, first-degree manslaughter and first-degree manslaughter with a firearm,” according to an exclusive Feb. 20 Republican-American report. The story indicated that of the 51,100 inmates released from Department of Correction custody between October 2011 and January 2017, 42,315 participated in the program.

On the positive side, the program can introduce inmates to ways in which they can be productive members of society. This may help keep crime down in the long run. “It is just an incentive to get people to do stuff we want them to do, and a disincentive for them to do stuff that we don’t want them to do,” Michael P. Lawlor, criminal-justice policy adviser to Gov. Malloy, told the Republican-American. Additionally, as the governor himself often notes, the program has resulted in inmates serving more of their sentences.

However, there is a troubling pattern that can’t be brushed off.

Three inmates convicted of violent crimes – Frankie “The Razor” Resto, Arthur Hapgood and Edwin Glass – passed through the program only to face additional serious charges after being released. Resto and Hapgood are back in prison, possibly for the rest of their lives.

The trend is especially concerning considering the Malloy administration touted the program as a means of preventing recidivism.

Additionally, Resto and Hapgood participated in the program despite records of poor behavior behind bars.

This year’s legislative session still is young.

Judging by the Feb. 20 Republican-American story, it seems the program may feature prominently.

Policymakers are advised to consider this important issue in a sober fashion, not through the prism of party or ideology.

It seems the best course to pursue is one that increases the program’s effectiveness at reducing recidivism.